Thoughts on Leadership: Learning from Og Mandino

By Gino Blefari

This week my travels find me starting Monday with my normal WIG calls. On Tuesday, I had an early Berkshire Hathaway Energy call followed by the monthly CEO leadership meeting. On Wednesday, I participated in the virtual monthly HomeServices of America team gathering then traveled to San Diego to attend the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals®’ NAHREP at L’ATTITUDES. 

In between sessions and meetings in San Diego, I sat down to write this post to you. My hotel room is currently quiet, and it reminds me of another time in my life, years ago, when I paid attention to the quiet, as I drove from a Mike Ferry Superstar Retreat in Palm Springs to a party in Las Vegas.

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Back then, I’d only been in real estate a little while, and I was hungry for information to learn absolutely everything I could that would allow me to succeed in the business. So, there I was, winding through the desert as dirt kicked up behind my car and the prickly Joshua Trees dotted every twist of the empty road. It was quiet, the kind of quiet where you can really hear yourself think. The only noise came from the book I was listening to – “Mission Success” by Og Mandino, who incidentally sounds like our own Rick Martel, SVP and Regional Sales Manager at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®.

With nothing but nature all around, Og’s wonderful voice cut through the Wild West hush, “I will live as all good actors do when they are onstage – only in the moment. I cannot perform at my best today by regretting my previous act’s mistakes or worrying about the scene to come …”

In an instant, my entire state of being changed. I thought to myself, “I have to read this every single morning because it will put me in the right mindset not just to simply get through the day but take from the day.”

And for the next 36 years I read that excerpt every single day. (You can see the full text here.) I’ve also included these words in my coaching program.

But it’s not just because of this morning mantra that Og Mandino has held a special place in my life. When I had just started in real estate, working at the Sunnyvale office of a company called Fox & Carskadon, I got connected through a top agent, Mike Ray, to see many motivating speakers . Before he got into real estate, Mike worked for Jim Rohn selling tickets to his seminars, and so when Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar and Og Mandino came to San Jose to speak, my connection with Mike secured me front row, comped seats to the show. It also got me backstage to meet them, and it was there where Og took a particular liking to me. I couldn’t possibly imagine at the time how extraordinary it would be to have Og Mandino as my mentor (thank you, Mike Ray), but his wisdom has guided me in my career ever since.

Beyond his mentorship, speaking, and words (I’ve read every book Og has ever written), it’s Og’s story that provides endless inspiration. Og became a famous name in 1968, when his book, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” was published. It has sent reverberating waves of inspiration across the planet ever since. Actor Matthew McConaughey once said he wouldn’t be where he is now if he hadn’t found this book in his time of need.

The book was based on a short story Og wrote for Success Unlimited, a magazine that he edited. When Fred Fell, the owner of a small publishing house, read the article while waiting for a dentist’s appointment, he immediately knew it was a best-selling story. He gave Og a call, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Yet, Og’s rise to meteoric stardom wasn’t all chance readings in dentist offices and best-selling books. His story starts long before he became an author. In 1942, he joined the Army Air Corps, where he was honored with the Distinguished Flying Cross. When the war ended, he took a job as an insurance salesman … and that’s when things started to take a turn. During long business trips, he’d stop at hotel bars during the night to have a drink, which turned into a bad drinking problem. His first wife left him. He grew so depressed he almost took his life. But instead of continuing down this destructive path, he headed to the self-help section of a local library, and it was there that he decided he’d turn his life around.

As a small tribute to someone who had a huge impact on my career, here are a few takeaways from “The Greatest Salesman in the World”:

  • You don’t have to be in sales to be a sales professional. If you’re in a business that works with people in any capacity, sales knowledge is critical.
  • Og used the same principles in the book to transform his life and become one of the most sought-after speakers in the world.
  • The story takes place in Ancient Jerusalem where a camel boy named Hafid, who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy man, wants to become wealthy enough to marry her. He goes to his mentor who says he will teach him the principles of the 10 scrolls, which will enable him to become a master in the art of sales.
  • Hafid must read a scroll three times each day for 30 days before going to the next one, because the more he reads them, the more they will seep into his subconscious mind and become a habit.
  • Scroll 1 is about the power of habits and how good habits are the key to success. Bad habits must be replaced with habits that bring you closer to success. A new and good habit forms with repetition.
  • Scroll 2 says you must greet every day with love in your heart. Love is a weapon to open hearts and a shield to combat hate and anger. Even if you have all the skills and wisdom imaginable, you can only be successful with love.
  • Scroll 3 is focused on persistence. Small attempts (or “small wins”) when repeated can help you discover sustainable progress. When you fail, you are increasing your chance for success at the next attempt, which is called “The Ancient Law of Averages.”
  • Scroll 4 says you are nature’s greatest miracle. You are rare and unique, which is your greatest asset, and imitation belittles the value of just how incredible and unique you are.
  • Scroll 5 is about living every day as if it is your last. Yesterday’s troubles and tomorrow’s problems do not come into play. The day is all you have, and it shouldn’t be wasted.
  • Scroll 6 says mastering your emotions should always be a priority. Sometimes you’re feeling happy, sometimes you’re feeling sad but for top performance and productivity, you must have your actions control your thoughts and not the other way around.
  • Scroll 7 is about having fun. Laugh and don’t take yourself too seriously! Four words can get you through any bad day: This too shall pass.
  • Scroll 8 is about multiplying your value in the marketplace by setting a high standard of living.
  • Scroll 9 says take action. Dreams are meaningless without the action to sustain and grow them. It’s better to act and fail than not act and live in a state of stagnation. Procrastination arises from fear.
  • Scroll 10 is about having faith that what you want will come to pass.

So, what’s the message? There is opportunity in happy times and in challenges. It’s all part of the journey to success that we’re on together. As Og once said, “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

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